Relationships

Ask Erica: “Is There Such a Thing as Ethical Porn?”

Ask Erica: Is There Such a Thing as Ethical Porn?

Wellbeing columnist Erica Chidi is here to answer our most pressing questions about sex, health and overall wellbeing. Today, she’s tackling the topic of ethical porn…

Q. What’s the real deal with “ethical porn?” My partner is interested in incorporating porn into our sex life — and I’m curious myself. But I’ve heard a lot about the exploitation and abuse that goes on in the mainstream porn industry, and I obviously don’t want to support a system like that. Is there really such a thing as ethical, non-exploitative porn? If so, how do I know where to find it? — Yvette

A. Let me start by saying how awesome it is that you and your partner are considering this. Watching porn together can be a great opportunity to expand and deepen your sexual dynamic. It’s also a chance to discover what you — and your partner — like and don’t like, or are mutually intrigued by. As humans, we learn a lot by behavior modeling — and most of us didn’t grow up with a lot of healthy modeling around sex.

Of course, you’re absolutely right to be concerned about finding healthy, ethical content. And yes, that content does exist. Generally, an ethical porn production is one where the performers are paid a fair wage and treated with respect, and no one is made to perform acts they’re not comfortable with. Personally, I also think porn that’s ethical features a diverse range of bodies and genders. It should feel inclusive. While ethical porn is increasingly in demand, there’s not yet a standard set of rules or a governing body to put its seal of approval on certain films or production houses, so you have to do a little research. Here are a few great places to start:

GoodForHer.com: This is a blog, store and sexual education site, which also hosts hundreds of streaming feminist porn videos on its site. (They also have DVDs for sale.) Good For Her is also a brick and mortar business in Canada, and has been working in this field since 1997. The company is extremely committed to supporting healthy, inclusive business practices — offering women- and trans-only hours in their shop, supplying sustainably produced products, and carefully curating its erotic content. If you’re getting porn from them, you can be confident that its been vetted by people who are well-acquainted with ethical production and genuinely care about it.

IFeelMyself.com: I really love to send people here and often recommend in my sex ed class at LOOM. It’s a collection primarily of masturbation videos mostly featuring female-identifying participants. I think female masturbation content can be very helpful, not only for women to see but also to share with their partners (regardless of gender). It can give you a sense of permission to explore yourself, and also give you something to model off. There’s still so much socialized stigma around female masturbation and pleasure, and IFeelMyself does a great job of reframing that. The collection of over 5,000 videos includes all kinds of bodies and strongly emphasizes an honest, diverse and artful depiction of sexual pleasure.

OmgYes.com: This is not exactly a porn site, but I still highly recommend it and think you and your partner would enjoy it. It’s an educational video series produced by researchers at Indiana University and The Kinsey Institute, who interviewed thousands of women, from age 18 to 95, about the actual techniques they enjoy sexually. There are demonstration and description videos, as well as “touchable videos” that allow you to practice the various techniques on a touch screen. OmgYes is a website, but it works similarly to an app and its compatible on desktop, phone or tablet. It’s a really fun and educative experience — and a really fun resource to explore, on your own or with a partner.

Finally, when in doubt, you can look for films that were featured at the Toronto International Porn Festival. They have a very detailed criteria for submissions (which you can read in full here), and they emphasize work that’s both high-quality and inclusive. They aim to represent the broadcast spectrum of sexual expression, rejecting stereotypes, emphasizing empowerment, and putting forth content that’s completely sex positive. This festival is really trying to push back against the mainstream porn industry and its exploitative practices, so you can feel good about any films associated with it.

Again, I want to commend you for being open to porn AND for being committed to finding good, ethical content. The more people that support this kind of work, the more prevalent it will become! So do your research, then go forth and enjoy!


Erica Chidi is the CEO of LOOM, a wellbeing brand closing the reproductive and sexual health knowledge gap for womxn. Through her book, Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Early Motherhood and her work as both a doula and health educator, she has guided thousands of people in their transition from pregnancy to parenthood. Erica also educates people on pleasure, relationships and self-care by providing an inclusive and shame-free perspective. She began her practice in San Francisco, volunteering as a doula within the prison system. She continues to work with organizations that serve marginalized communities.

Do you have a sex, health or wellness question for Erica? Let us know in the comments. And here are 10 things Erica always tells pregnant women, if you’d like to read.

P.S. “I’ve never had an orgasm,” and who initiates sex in your relationship?

(Top photo by VISUALSPECTRUM/Stocksy. Erica’s photo by Julia Chesky.)

  1. Amy says...

    BRAVO! Seriously. Truly.

  2. Hollis says...

    This is such a great topic, thank you for covering this.

  3. Anais says...

    No one is forcing you to watch porn. Some people love it, some people don’t, it can be healthy and it can be unhealthy, just like everything else. If you do watch porn, might as well watch the ethical kind, which is what this article is about. If you don’t, move along :)
    Thank you CoJ for the great article and resources! Keep it up. xx

    • Caraline says...

      Exactly!!!

  4. Abby says...

    Recommendation for Erika Lust porn here. Definitely high standards and one of the few female entrepreneurs in the ethical porn industry.

    • Stephanie says...

      Seconding Erika Lust for ethical / feminist porn – she’s amazing!

  5. Rose says...

    I have been in a relationship with a women for a long time but I have recently come to accept I am more interested in sex with men.

    Friends say it’s like riding a bike BUT what tips would you have for a woman who was looking to get more comfortable having straight sex?

    I have no issue in how to pleasure myself but would love some tips/resources like the ones posted here but more aimed at maximising male pleasure.

  6. Robin says...

    I love Erica Chidi Cohen and I love this post and I love Joanna and CoJ. Thank you for this, you are doing great work! oxoxoox

  7. Audra says...

    Thank you for this post! I have been thinking about ethical/feminist porn lately, and it’s surprisingly hard to find. It’s also not talked about enough, so I appreciate Cup of Jo for using its platform to start these important conversations. The desire to view porn is totally normal, but the mainstream industry is geared towards male pleasure, which I’ve found makes it inaccessible to women. As a feminist, I’m deeply disturbed by the way the industry discounts female pleasure and portrays women as sexual objects. But there ARE people making ethical porn, that represents all pleasure. My hope is that someday all porn will look like that. For now, the site Belessa.co is a good one to check out. It’s a porn company run by women, and a good portion of its content consists of actual couples having loving, consensual, pleasurable sex.

    • S says...

      I like that site too.

  8. Suz says...

    Reading these comments is so interesting! ANYTHING has the potential to become an addiction as many have already mentioned because of different traumas we have each experienced in our lives and upbringings and different voids we are trying to fill. I grew up very religious and, while some parts of that religion have likely positively shaped me, I now have to do a lot of work to unpack all the shame, fear, secrecy, homophobia, and gendered beliefs I was raised to believe about sex and sexuality. As many have also already mentioned, porn can be consumed mindfully and non-compulsively by many individuals and couples and yet it can, of course, be addictive and debilitating to others. So the porn itself isn’t usually the issue, it’s the fact that some people can end up feeling like porn is the ONLY way to meet a need or numb a trauma which then develops into an addiction. In my opinion, the culture of shame and secrecy that our country (which was very much shaped by religion) has around sex, sexual exploration, consent, and desire can lead to addictive and shame-filled behaviors around sex and porn. Maybe the lack of quality sex education, openness, and honesty about sex that many receive from their families, communities, churches, and schools paired with the hyper-sexualized expectations of a lot of media lead to many people turning to porn to explore their sexuality? But of course, instead of being met with love and understanding and being encouraged to ask questions and explore their sexuality (huge kudos to OMGyes.com for encouraging education and sex-positivity!) people often react with fear tactics and shame and judgment which perhaps drives them toward more secret addictive sexual behaviors? Many people explore their sexuality without porn, but I do think it’s something people often discover when they are exploring and curious about sex and their sexuality. I have been encouraged by all of the shifts and movements that I have seen over the last few years (mostly led by womxn!) to open up the conversation about sexuality and people’s different experiences. This post by the cupofjo team is not trying to convince you to use porn if you’re not interested, but it is trying to open up the conversation and unpack some of the issues in this industry and offer ethical alternatives. It’s bringing something to the light that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with and I love that! Everyone should feel empowered to make the best decisions for themselves, but educating yourself and opening yourself up to hearing about other people’s experiences is always valuable and not dangerous (like I was led to believe in my religion). If it makes you uncomfortable, sit with it and grapple with it and talk about it in a respectful and nonjudgemental way. Shaming or scaring people has rarely changed someone’s opinion.

    • S says...

      So much wisdom in this comment, thank you

    • Katha says...

      Thank you for your elaborate comment, Suz!

      I would really be interested in the views on the matter from people outside of the US. Because as a European (German, with a rather laid-back relation to nudity etc.) the apparent lack of good (or at least unbiased non agenda-driven) sex education and the culture of shame about sex and on the other hand very sexulized expectations (you describe it with much better words) has always baffled me.

      But I guess that is a much wider topic that goes far beyond just ones opinion on porn.

    • C says...

      Very well said and totally agree

  9. AJ says...

    Whoa. Sorry to say it, but the comments here are just highlighting how religious bias can make some people (some – not saying all) incapable of rational debate or listening to other viewpoints. Of course porn can be addictive. So can alcohol. So can food. So can exercise.
    Do we never mention wine, for that reason? Do we never share recipes, for that reason?
    Do we always follow up mention of those topics with blinkered judgement and shut-down anyone who does perhaps enjoy those things in what feels like a healthy way to them?
    Of course we don’t – that would be absurd.
    Ps. For the record, I’m not really into porn. But that’s no one else’s business (just as your sex life is none of mine) and not something I’m here to explain, but it definitely sounds like good news is ‘ethical porn’ exists.

    • Linda says...

      I’m not religious. But I don’t like porn and wish it didn’t exist. Why? Because I have a 14-year-old son. It sickens me that porn is all over the internet, that hard core images are accessible with one click. When he was 11 I discovered that a youtube click had led him to a hard core anime porn site. I was so sad that he saw that. It’s just wrong that all this depraved stuff is being shoved in our kids’ faces. I feel VERY strongly about this.

  10. Sex should be celebrated! But Joanna I am so disappointed in you. You are an Incredibly intelligent and educated woman. How could you possibly post about “benefits of porn” when there are so many studies of the harm porn causes relationships and to the viewer. Porn destroys families, marriages, relationships, it is an epidemic. Shame on you Joanna. You know better. I’ve been reading and loving you and your blog for over 8 years. Do better Joanna. This is unacceptable.

    • sarah h says...

      “You know better. ” “Do better Joanna. This is unacceptable.”
      What in the world? How incredibly rude and condescending.

    • LS says...

      This comment is unacceptable and irrational. How insulting for you to compliment then shame her all in the same breath. If you do not like this post, you can keep scrolling. Your judgments are not helpful.

    • K says...

      Your judgmental, holier-than-thou, close-minded tone is what’s *truly* unacceptable, in my opinion. I’ve seen so many comments highlighting the hypocrisy of people drawing a hard, direct line between porn and addiction… without mention of the fact that alcohol (which includes wine!) can also be addictive (modern American drinking culture is massively problematic, a health epidemic among women), so can sugar, so can dieting, etc.

      And I’ve yet to see ONE coherent, sensible response from one of these porn pearl-clutchers.

    • Riley says...

      Wow. I don’t think it would ever occur to me to talk to another human like this. Joanna, I completely support the content of this post and am sorry you’re having to withstand this vitriol.

    • Natasha says...

      If you do not enjoy the content posted by Joanna and her team, maybe you ought to go elsewhere to find such a diverse array of inclusive, respectful and thought provoking content?… Good luck with that though – there are few sites that can compete! Or, maybe accept that not all of CofJ’s content was written with your personal opinion in mind, and be open to the fact that there are thousands of women out here who love the open mindedness of this website. It is quite shocking that you feel it is ok to shame and preach to Joanna, on her own website!!

  11. S says...

    I feel conflicted about porn in general, but I think any efforts to steer folks toward ethical porn are very positive.

    Just my personal experience, but it really does fly in the face of those speaking against any porn at all: I suffer from addictions, yet porn is not addictive for me. At all. I go weeks and sometimes months without looking. The same things that bothered me the very first time I looked, still bother me years later. Harder, more violent, whatever, still a hard no from me. I still like the things I liked from the first. I still look at the same sites which are obviously exclusively adult, diverse and consentual. My relationship with my husband hasn’t changed at all. I still think about him when I’m with him. He still turns me on. Sex is still very loving and satisfying. I don’t look at anyone in a more sexualized way. I do experience better sleep and less anxiety after orgasms though, no matter how I have them.

    I know everyone’s experiences are different, but I have a hard time buying into many of these arguments when my own experience is so completely different. Is porn bad for some people and their relationships? Indeed. Is it terrible for everyone? That just doesn’t make sense to me. Now opioids, there’s an addiction problem that’s hurting us all.

  12. Anonymous says...

    The heteronormativity in so many of these comments saddens me. Why are we assuming that the partner is male? And in what ways does and doesn’t the partner’s gender matter?

    As someone who realized later in life that I am not straight, I am so thankful that ethical–and queer!–porn exists. It allowed me to reimagine what sex could look like and be like. It allowed me to actually recognize who I am attracted to. And in a world that is so heteronormative, I desperately needed that.

    • Rosie says...

      That’s awesome! I’m so happy for you. When I started dating women it was queer porn and the L Word that showed me how limited my knowledge of sex was and how much more there was to sex than the hands, mouth, penetration formula that heterosexual people cling to.

  13. Michelle says...

    Hmmm, the post was about ethical porn. I don’t recall so many negative comments when CofJ team wrote an article about masterbation and vibrators. I wonder how many who respond so negatively actually masterbate and run imaginary images in their minds. Porn is a stimulant for some and an addiction for others. Rather than ban all porn there should be regulation of what is posted in the Web, and help information attached so people who are finding themselves addicted can seek help.

    • Melissa says...

      Great post Joanna. Keep up the extraordinary work and don’t let the negative comments get to you – you’re doing the right thing.

    • Rosie says...

      You can’t regulate porn without telling people that some sex is okay and some is not. Nobody gets to make that decision. Mainstream porn sites do not feature any rape or child pornography which are illegal acts, but nobody gets to police other people’s kinks.

  14. Danielle says...

    It seems pretty obvious that someone who read the article is associated with this mormon-founded organization fightthenewdrug and notified other people there so they could spam the comments with dozens of similar ‘personal anecdotes’, scathing remarks, and endorsements of their organization. Whether or not those stories are true, and I am certainly aware that there are negative aspects of the pornography industry, I just want to add my voice as someone who appreciates this content appearing on the blog. I’ve been reading COJ for a decade and am always happy to see new avenues you take to provide thoughtful information for your readers. It’s also great to hear from a diverse group of female experts on issues that matter to me. This is an article I can see myself passing along to friends and revisiting in the future with a partner.

    • Melissa says...

      That makes sense! I was wondering why these comments seem so off base with the norm CofJ comments.

  15. R says...

    I have to respectfully disagree with some of the commenters. My husband and I are happily married and occasionally enjoy watching porn as part of our sex life. As a feminist, I’m overjoyed to have some resources I can rest easy are ethical. Porn is clearly not for everyone and I respect those who choose to abstain but to insinuate that no one can watch it without needing to get into “harder stuff” is just not true. In our 8 years together our tastes have actually remained fairly consistent. Additionally, I still feel loved, respected, and adored by my husband. To me it’s just some variety that helps keep things fresh. I believe that novelty actually helps us stay together because we aren’t pretending biology isn’t a real thing. Finding other people attractive is normal, and I find that monogamy for us requires good communication and openness about thoughts and feelings and respecting my partner as a whole complex person with his own inner life. Rather than finding that threatening I find it fascinating.

  16. tc says...

    I just don’t get so many of the comments on this topic. My husband and I enjoy watching porn sometimes while having sex. We’ve never had a problem with it, never felt compelled to move onto “harder or weirder” porn or need or want it every time. We are both extremely attracted to each other and it’s never, ever resulted into any negative feelings. I feel very loved by my husband and he always tells me how attracted he is to me etc. but even without the latter, I’ve never minded it all. It’s great when we watch it and it’s also great when we don’t. It has never affected us in any negative way. Just my experience.

  17. Ellen says...

    Cup of Jo published a post on romance novels a while ago that got lots of positive reader feedback. The comment thread here is so much more contentious! I’ve never been into porn myself, but is it possible that some of it is more in the vein of romance novels?

  18. Jessica says...

    I’m noticing a strange similarity in some of the negative comments and responses to this post. I’m not saying they are all not legitimate, in-good-faithful CoJ readers ( I fully expect there to be a proportion of people who read this blog to be anti-porn, wanting to discuss that in this open forum, and that’s completely cool), but the similarity in language and tone in a number of comments feels somewhat agenda-driven, likes there’s something more going on here. I’m not sure what that would be, just curious if anyone else noticed that too.

    • Miranda says...

      I noticed that too! A quick google showed me that the anti-porn site that a few of them mention is run by a Mormon group, so I think that religious belief is at play for a lot of the commenters you’re mentioning.

    • Jess says...

      YES! Totally agree.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes, I noticed! I made a comment awhile down wondering if there was some tag-teaming. Yes, the tone is eerily similar in many of the posts.

    • Riley says...

      I made a comment much earlier today (so I think it must not have been approved) about the site many are recommending and its history. In case my comment doesn’t get posted for some reason (not sure why — it was very tame and courteous) I definitely suggest that people give “fight the new drug” a quick google and check out the Wikipedia page. Good to know what you’re looking at and who it’s written by!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m sure your comment was posted! Maybe it’s on the second page of comments?

    • Riley says...

      Oh nevermind, I just saw that it was posted! SMH

    • Amanda says...

      Ding ding ding! Someone has an agenda.

    • SG says...

      Yes Jessica, absolutely, I noticed the same thing. It sounds like a troll from the organization spouting the same message in slightly different variations. For what it’s worth, I’m a psychotherapist and yes, porn can be a process addiction, just like anything else that can be harmful if not consumed in moderation, and if it negatively affects your functioning and/or relationships. And yes, there is exploitation in that field, as there is in virtually any other field. However, it can also be used in a healthy way, and it can encourage sexual exploration. Many people view it secretly. In American society, women are not encouraged to explore their own sexuality and we are often shamed for doing so. it’s 2020 and no longer a Puritan society! Do what works for you and your partner, as long as it’s not negatively affecting other areas of your life and forget about the naysayers who have their own agendas.

    • LB says...

      I don’t know why it matters, and you would choose to disregard something just because a Mormon group supports fightthenewdrug??? I’m not Mormon but really like the website, and what they are doing.

      I already posted and mentioned that you can also find information at:
      truthaboutporn.org

      This site has experts from all different walks of life, and fields. It also has links to tons of research.

    • Jessica says...

      Lol, ok then its not just me. I’ve been watching a lot of the later seasons of Homeland lately, so paranoia around internet interference is high with me right now ;)

    • Megan says...

      No agenda, just a lot of readers who respect Fight The New Drug…don’t see how that equates to trolling? With a site with so many readers, it’s inevitable it will pop up as it’s the leader in its field. Of course it has its own mission, but so does LOOM…I have to applaud Joanna for attracting such a varied audience to her blog. I don’t support porn but still love Cup of Jo and the healthy discussions it creates!

  19. em says...

    I am sitting here reading these comments like, wow I wonder if Joanna knew what this post would stir up – hahah

  20. L says...

    Thank you to all who have commented here. This is an upsetting topic for me, as I recently discovered my husband’s porn use. I’m not clutching my pearls, but reflect with genuine mourning as I fit this into the context of our long marriage which has gone sexually dormant. He struggles to ‘respond’ physically (the effects of ‘supernormal stimuli’?). I have struggled to ‘respond’ on some intuitive level (before finding this out about him). He has an addictive personality type, and his interest/use may be even more intense than I am aware of.
    Many of the opinions, and the websites mentioned, are helping me articulate to myself what it all means. At a soul level, I don’t like what porn stands for–the fictionalized amplification of ideas that tarnish genuine love.

    • S says...

      I went through something like this myself. My husband also has an addictive personality type. It was very difficult to overcome but therapy ultimately saved our marriage. Not a huge fan of porn either myself…

    • Kate says...

      Sending warmth and hugs to you L, as you navigate this. Chin up.

    • Nicole says...

      Been there. Well said. Sending you love.

  21. Andrea says...

    I’d love to hear what people actually in the porn industry think about ethical porn. We as women don’t want to be objectified, but this is what porn does to people, even if the actors consented and were treated fairly. You’re still looking at another human person purely for your own sexual gratification, which to me means they’re being objectified.

    • Kirsty says...

      I think the difference is consent. I certainly don’t mind being objectified and a object of sexual desire by my husband at times (and I do the same to him), I just don’t want every person I meet to be weighing me up like I’m a perfectly ripe avocado when sourdough is on special. And if you’re watching ethical porn, those women (and men!) are consenting to being objectified, and are benefiting from that in ways they seem acceptable.

  22. M says...

    I’m surprised to read so many comments here about the damaging, addictive side of porn, but have never read any comments like this when Jo posts something about indulging in a cocktail, or having a glass of wine. I can think of many, many more people who struggle with alcoholism than porn addiction. It’s important to remember that as adults we are able to judge what and how much of something is healthy, or unhealthy for ourselves, but not for others. What happens between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own space is non of my business.

    • M says...

      *none

    • nora says...

      I was going to say the same thing!

      side note, has anyone watched The Deuce? It took a nuanced look at the porn industry (and in its earlier seasons, sex work). Maggie Gyllenhaal is AMAZING in it.

    • Rach says...

      I come at it from a slightly different angle. I’ve seen how porn affects the way that men view and treat women. I’ve read the studies, I’ve talked to men, and I’ve listened to women who work in these industries (yes, some women find sex work empowering, but lots of women don’t, and I’m inclined to say that if an industry is actively hurting women, even if it’s not hurting ALL women, or even if lots of women don’t feel hurt by it, I can’t back it. There may be ethical places *within* that industry, but how do you disentangle those places from the larger whole?).
      I’m a woman. I have a daughter. I want society to come to a place where women aren’t objectified, viewed as sex objects, where I’m safe and where I feel safe, etc. I can’t help but feel that porn is working against us in so many ways. I can agree that what happens between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own space is none of my business—TOTALLY—but I also struggle with it in this instance because I have seen the effects of porn on me and on the women around me—the things that happen in private spaces are leaking out into public spaces, into OTHER people’s private spaces (a commenter below said something about how “men seem to now believe that lesbians/queer women exist for their sexual enjoyment”—but I feel like that’s true about straight women too, and I can’t understand how people don’t see the link between men consuming porn for entertainment and believing women exist for their sexual enjoyment). I know it’s maybe unpopular for me to say that it’s a feminist issue for me, but…it just is. Porn isn’t just porn. It’s an oppressive, abusive industry that makes its money off of trafficking, devaluing, and demeaning females. Porn is a problem that affects more than just the immediate users.

    • D says...

      Of course you can think of more people who struggle with alcoholism. It’s out there and the damaging effects are widely accepted as reality. Porn addiction is often very hidden and only the spouse will see the problem. When problems with porn get mentioned, people argue that it’s a morality issue. It’s not for me. It’s an addiction/violence against women issue. I’m not saying anything against the article and the choice to indulge in porn ethically, if that makes a difference. What I’m saying is that there are risks to porn, ethical or not.

    • M says...

      I hear you, Rach, and I want a lot of the same things you do. I’m a feminist too. If I want to watch ethical porn in what I view as a healthy way then I will. I am not responsible for controlling men who cannot be responsible for controlling themselves and their actions towards women.

    • anni says...

      thank you, rach!!!

    • Beth says...

      Love how thoughtful and respectful you all are, and how it shows there’s not one experience or one right answer.

  23. Rose says...

    I love the conversations happening on this post! Porn isn’t for me, and at first I didn’t like this post for that reason. However, after reading the comments I began to wonder: could promoting ethical porn make way for better porn consumption across the board? Naysayers on here are saying that porn should not be promoted, but it is consumed regardless of what we say on the COJ comments. Wouldn’t we want to promote the most ethical option? Most troubling is that young people can view porn so early on and the free stuff is usually pretty warped. What if we normalized paying for ethical, consenting, porn? I would 100% rather people watched the things on ethical sites than the abusive content that other sites. I think there needs to be a bigger conversation about how we shift people from porn that harms people to consuming porn that is consensual and ethical.

    I will give the caveat that as a gay woman, I am so saddened by the way porn has over-sexualized my orientation. The comments I have received are so harmful, largely because men seem to now believe that lesbians/queer women exist for their sexual enjoyment. I’m not sure how porn could solve this – seems like a greater misogyny problem.

    • Rosie says...

      I’m gay too, and I don’t think many men think we exist for their sexual enjoyment. I think they just realized they’re attracted to it, and it kind of ups the excitement factor in porn. I talked about it with a straight male friend, and he admitted that he loves lesbian porn because he finds it more exotic because it seems more forbidden. So many straight guys are raised in an environment that judges homosexuality, but then watching women do something that is supposedly bad is intriguing. I guess it’s been a while since anyone said something lewd to me about my sexuality, but I don’t feel like being a lesbian is over-sexualized. The inauthenticity of lesbian porn kills me, but I kind of like knowing that despite all the conservative people calling my sex life disgusting, there are a hell of a lot of people who think it’s pretty damn awesome.
      Also, nice name ;)

    • Jen says...

      I am not into porn either and have never been to the website mentioned. I think what made me uncomfortable was the author suggesting that wanting to watch porn is a positive thing. I don’t see why it is more positive than not consuming porn. I think if someone really wants to/needs to, ethical porn would be the way to go so that’s great. I just don’t see why this is framed so positively. I’m pretty sure you can have a healthy sexuality without porn. To each her own.

  24. Z. says...

    Umm… could you do a post on ethical fashion and right after make another by someone else who argues all fashion is bad for society because body issues, consumerism, environment?

    (feeling sarcastic.)

  25. Riley says...

    Just to for the sake of informing, since so many are pointing to “Fight the New Drug” as a source of non-biased research…

    Yes, they call themselves “non-religious,” but a very quick google search yields that the organization was founded by a group of Mormons. While not “formally tied to the LDS church”, I think it’s a connection worth mentioning. Also, one peek at the “meet our team” shows a staff that is 100% white. I wonder if anyone on their staff is queer? Trans? Not as non-biased as they claim….

    Here is some of what’s just available on Wikipedia:
    “James Hablin of The Atlantic described their approach as “a just-some-of-the-facts approach”, less transparent than an openly ideologically-driven ideology, and noted that evidence for a link between pornography and negative health outcomes was inconclusive. Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast described the group’s message as “rooted in pseudoscience”, criticizing the analogy of porn as a drug as contradictory to neuroscience research. Allen noted the campaign as an example of continued influence by Mormons over social issues, and pointed to the group launching the billboards in San Francisco as evidence of them intentionally targeting socially progressive regions. In an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, a group of sex therapists stated that Fight the New Drug’s leaders and presenters were not mental health nor sexuality professionals and did not have sufficient training to address these subjects appropriately, and noted that a claim by the group, that pornography affects the brain like drugs, is false because pornography does not introduce chemicals into the brain.”

    Thanks for considering!

    • Anon says...

      Thank you for highlighting the mormon connection. I grew up mormon and the second I read in the comments that people were upset by this, it reeked of mormon agenda. There are actually billboards in Utah about quitting porn. It can be overwhelming living in Utah and having the mormon influence everywhere. I grew up thinking sex was wrong and porn was wrong, and it’s really damaged my ability to have a healthy sexuality even into my 30s. I really appreciate this post for normalizing healthy sexuality and saying that it’s ok to have desire and curiosity.

  26. LBD says...

    Yes, yes and yes! Thank you Cup of Jo for embracing sex positivity. As a psychotherapist and a strong woman, I thank you for being committed to exploring all aspects of our human experiences. Again, thank you for your excellent work!

  27. Nicola says...

    Thank you for this post, Jo and Erica, and just in time for <3 day! My friends and I love these Ask Erica posts, please keep them coming. Some of the knee-jerk responses to the word "porn" illustrate the need for so much more education surrounding sex and pleasure! Makes me imagine what Erica must deal with regularly, so THANK YOU ERICA for your service to humans! Sexual pleasure is a human right y'all, find out what works for you and enjoy without shame <3

  28. Amy says...

    I’m going to add my opinion in. I am a mama of girls and boys. This is not what I want for my babies to be accepted as the norm or ok. While I admittedly have not read ALL the research on this, what I have read says that porn CAN and often IS problematic and addictive. Again, I’m not going take the time to read everything. There are a lot of other things I do spend time on: raising kind, healthy, socially conscious humans, fighting climate change, volunteering in my community….
    I just think, why go there? Why risk it? My opinion. I am not shaming anyone, but I am entitled to my opinion as you are yours. However, in my heart this does not feel like the right thing to do and I will attempt to instill in my children the same values.

  29. Kelly says...

    afourchamberedheart.com is also a vastly different porn project that I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking for something a bit different than mainstream. Very artsy, sometimes very conceptual, “exploring themes of technology, symbolism, mythology, alchemy, and their intrinsic intersection with sex.” They have a whole post on transparency about how they run the project–make films, pay contributors, etc.

  30. Abi says...

    I am really appreciating the thoughtful comments here, even on such a controversial subject. Thank you, ladies, for taking the time to write thoughtfully about this!
    I am also one of those who is disappointed that the original article doesn’t address the negatives of porn consumption. A dear friend of mine broke off an engagement (like, wedding dress purchased, deposit on the venue engagement) because her partner was no longer attracted to her, due to the effects of his porn addiction. She is lovely, kind, and welcoming, but this hit her so hard. It’s been several years, and she’s still dealing with the aftermath–feeling undesirable and unworthy of love.
    After seeing that, I have a really hard time with the idea that porn can be consumed with positive outcomes.

    • Christy says...

      Abi, I’m so sad to hear about your friend. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a story like this. I hope your friend finds healing, both in believing the truth about herself and in feeling affirmed by someone who (especially in her case) maybe even has eyes for her alone. <3

    • Jessica says...

      I hear where you are coming from, but as with any addiction, its tricky to generalize. For example, many people struggle with alcoholism, but that’s not a reason to abstain if alcohol is not a problem for you (although I understand and respect that for some people this is the position they take.) Just like many people can stop at one or two drinks, similarly many couples can partake in enjoying porn together and not have it develop into an addiction, but rather a healthy expression of their sex life. Obviously communication and understanding each others expectations is an important part of this. Certainly this post would not be for someone struggling with addiction within their relationship.

    • Rosie says...

      How does she distinguish his porn addiction making him no longer attracted to her from him no longer being attracted to her in the usual way? Maybe he wasn’t satisfied with their sex life. Perhaps he genuinely wasn’t attracted to her anymore. I certainly dated people who I became way less attracted to over time. If porn did ultimately make him realize he didn’t want to be with her, that isn’t a bad thing. If it made him realize he wants adventurous/rougher/more frequent sex or someone younger, those aren’t insane things to want. I respect him for being honest and not getting tied up in a marriage that he wouldn’t be happy in.

  31. Rosie says...

    I am so irritated by some of the comments on here. There is so much naivete about what people have already seen and the assumption that it is intrinsically bad to watch porn and be curious about what else is out there. There is nothing wrong with being turned on by watching someone else have sex. If it isn’t for you then that’s fine, but shaming people for enjoying the voyeuristic elements or claiming that watching people enjoy things that they aren’t interested in doing is harmful to everyone is ridiculous and frankly offensive. You have no right to judge what other people do in private. I’m not interested in watching porn with my wife, but I tune in on my own from time to time. If she asked me to share what I watch with her I would. She’s asked me about the kinds of porn that I think are hot, and it’s allowed us to talk about trying new things. My wife watches too and she didn’t want to tell me what she likes and that is fine too. If she gets off on watching a straight anal gang bang then I don’t care. Sexuality is so much more complicated than many of you are acknowledging. It’s okay for you to not be enough for your partner. You can’t be everything. Wouldn’t you rather they watch someone do something you aren’t into and masturbate than pressure you into doing it or go looking for it in real life elsewhere? Argh. Just let other people have their fun!

    • Nicola says...

      “It’s okay to not be enough for your partner. You can’t be everything. Wouldn’t you rather they watch someone do something you aren’t into and masturbate than pressure you into doing it or go looking for it in real life elsewhere? Argh. Just let other people have their fun!” AMEN!

    • Riley says...

      Yes! You said so much of what I was thinking. It’s like, “oh, I know a guy who had heart disease because he ate too many french fries.” French fries are still awesome — that guy just didn’t have a great relationship with them.

  32. LB says...

    I really hope you will post this comment. Please go to this website to learn more, https://truthaboutporn.org/media/

    They have gathered hundreds of scientific studies on pornography and its affects on individuals, relationships, and society. If you don’t want to read through the scientific studies, there are also media clips from professors, scientist, therapist, etc. Please take the time to really look into this for yourself.

  33. Abigail says...

    I have been listening to a lecture just lately where someone who has been somewhat interviewing people, told about porn’s effects on couples and individuals. Accordingly porn is harmful- to the actors and to the consumers. It does change the way we see the other person- it makes him or her look more sexual, flattenst the image of sex, and it gives distorted ideas of couplehood. If monogamous, long-lasting, happy and fulfilling relationship is the wish, porn should have nothing to do with it. Same goes with young people and young adults- they should as well get free of the idea that porn has something to offer them.

  34. Kate says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Especially excited to look at OMGyes with my partner, and eventually pass this info along to my daughter. It makes me really happy to know that she has better resources than I did. My fingers are crossed that by the time she decides to have sex she’ll be fully in touch with her own body, desires, and boundaries, leading to a fulfilling and safe sex life.

  35. Marie says...

    The reason why I can’t accept the “good for her, not for me” statement is because the porn industry (soft, hard, all of it) affects us all. Most people who start out with soft porn will keep advancing into harder stuff because it is so addictive. People are saying it’s not a drug, but essentially it is, because our brains and bodies release chemicals. Even if porn is not hurting you, it is hurting others. I know a chaplain of a prison, and he can attest to the devastating impact that porn has had on inmates leading to many of their crimes.

    • Amy says...

      I’m sorry, but this comment (and others) is so ironic that I can barely stand it! This entire post is dedicated to addressing the problems of the porn industry, that’s literally the whole point of ethical porn! Of course the effects of mainstream porn are devastating, that is why it is so important to address and fix those issues directly, which is what the organizations above are dedicated to. Now if you think a happily married couple watching an instructional video on how to help the wife achieve orgasm (such as the videos on omgyes) is “hurting others”, I’m not really sure what to say. I don’t see how that is any different that religious books like Sheet Music, which is also a book of sex tips.

    • GZ says...

      Good point, Marie.

      I was going to make the point that “good for her, not for me” has limits. And we can def disagree about where those limits are, but they exist.

      Wearing a jumpsuit to work: “Good for her, Not for me”
      Working 70 hours a week: “Good for her, not for me”
      Cheating on taxes: “……..”
      Sleeping with your best friend’s husband: “….”

      People can say that porn does not cross that line, or that it does. I’m open to that debate. But there are limits to the application of that phrase. There is right and wrong, no matter how inconvenient that is.

    • Kaye says...

      “Most people who start out with soft porn will keep advancing into harder stuff because it is so addictive.” Prohibitionists at the turn of the century said the same thing about alcohol, and I’ve heard many people use the same argument re: marijuana. Yes – many people are *not* capable of responsible consumption. Yes – we should absolutely stress the importance of responsibly consuming porn. But not every article that brings up wine talks about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and the same rationale should be applied to articles on porn!

      There are many, many of us who are able to enjoy the occasional glass of wine… And even the occasional puff of marijuana (never tried any other drug in my life – not a “gateway drug” for everyone). And there are many, many of us who are able to occasionally indulge in watching some porn. So thank you, Cup of Jo, for teaching us a bit more in how we can indulge ethically, with a clear conscience.

    • Megan says...

      I agree. Our culture is so loathe to tell others how to live their lives, yet I think porn consumption has absolutely reached the level of public health crisis. I am pro sex education so sites like OMGYes are great in my eyes (and not porn, it’s clear thats not what you were referring to), but if people don’t think we need healthy boundaries, we’re sadly going to keep seeing kids being not only exposed to but ok with mainstream porn, resulting in an even more warped idea of what sex can and should be. The fact that OMGYes is listed in this piece points to the utter lack ‘ethical porn’. Instead of seeking instant gratification, use your imagination and get creative, ladies! Do you really want to be having sex with your partner and picture someone else? Or be on the receiving end of that kind of distracted sex?

  36. Amber says...

    Yeah not for me. My best friend is a Therapist specializing in Porn Addiction and the fall out for children, adults. It’s absolutely incredible. No porn is healthy. PORN KILLS LOVE. Look it up the site…it’s a whole thing. Having been personally affected by a partner with a porn addiction- I will not date or be with someone if they enjoy this content.

  37. Ann says...

    It’s frustrating to see some of the rude comments here. I personally feel that porn has the potential to be very damaging to relationships and society’s views towards women (specifically encouraging violence towards them). However, I think more empirical research needs to be done before we can say anything conclusively. Here is an interesting, and unbiased, discussion of this topic by one of the leading researchers on love and marriage, John Gottman: https://www.gottman.com/blog/an-open-letter-on-porn/

    I would encourage everyone to actually read up on this, rather than insult others who have a different view.

  38. Christy says...

    I posted a comment last night, and other comments have been approved since, but my comment hasn’t appeared. Just thought I’d try once more.

    The CoJ community — blog writers and commenters — has a warm place in my heart. I’ve been following Jo since before she had kids; she has a bright and kind way of inviting people into dialogue. I also deeply appreciate Elle’s observation that the research behind porn suggests a different approach than this blog post suggests, along with Elle’s observation that CoJ often presents opinions as facts. A different way of saying this: when CoJ discusses controversial topics, it often presupposes that its perspective is the only reasonable perspective. Unfortunately, this is less open minded than I think CoJ truly wishes to be.

    It would be great to see a blog post offering a different personal perspective on pornography, along with a serious discussion of the research. Many comments are suggesting a “good for her, not for me” approach. It would be great to hear from the experiences and viewpoint of other women on this important topic.

    Also, kudos for women have open discussion about these important topics: who we look at intimately, how it affects the people we’re watching, and how it affects us.

    • Christy says...

      *women having :)

    • Christy says...

      After reading all the new comments on this thread, I just want to add my appreciation for the CoJ team moderating and approving all these comments. I don’t know if the CoJ team expected the response that this post has generated, but I imagine this might not be the most fun thing to process. Sending you an extra dose of love today, CoJ ladies! Thank you sincerely for all you do to create and facilitate this special community of women. I might not have agreed with the perspective in this post, but I’m still with you and cheering for you.

  39. Gill F. says...

    Makes me happy to see this here! Since this list is pretty straight, I wanted to throw some others into the mix.
    http://www.crashpadseries.com/?CA=934717-0000&PA=2388534
    http://queerporn.tv/wp/
    https://pinkwhite.biz/ (this is the production group behind crash pad)

    And, as mentioned above, check out The Toronto Porn Festival and the Feminist Porn Awards (https://www.feministpornawards.com/) to find even more stuff.

    And remember, not everyone on this site is married or in a monogamous relationship or straight or etc etc etc. What some people enjoy, others might not. Before you judge, try and keep that in mind.
    I recommend the sites above because they feature a variety of bodies (fat! thin! hairy! shaved! different colors!) and a variety of sexualities and they’re all well paid, well treated actors and actresses. If you find someone you really like and vibe with, you can then go find their own sites/videos.

    Thanks for opening up this conversation!

    • Jessica says...

      Great comment Gill F! Its great to see a variety of sex represented. Even beyond what particular sexuality people identify with, the reality is that sexuality is complex, and people’s fantasies often spill over those boundaries. As a straight cis-gendered female, I enjoy watching porn featuring more than just straight hetero couples, and its so nice to find content that isn’t just the hyper-stereotypical hairless blond bombshell/muscled up stud combo.

  40. Amanda says...

    LOVE this article!

    Like many of the people in these comments who keep referring to “research” and “studies” that say porn=bad, I used to think watching porn was awful for relationships. However, I now understand that the only thing that ruins a relationship is insecurity and lack of trust. Yes, porn can lead to these things if you let them (which is usually the thesis of these studies and research), but the entire point of this article is to highlight that there are types of porn that are healthy, artistic, consensual, and that may be better for those in stable relationships.

    Porn is not cheating on someone or compensating for your partner “not being enough,” it is embracing a different side of your sexual personality. And doing that with the support of your partner, by watching together, can be even better. Humans are complex and have complicated desires, and learning to explore your bodies and desires with your partner is one of the great privileges of being in a relationship. We all have feelings beyond our relationships, it would be naive to claim otherwise, so what could be better than exploring those desires with your partner?

    I’m not saying this is an option or a solution for everyone, but just saying to open your mind to this. Especially if you have never actually read any of these academic porn studies yourselves lol misinformation spreads like wildfire these days.

    • D says...

      A lot of the studies actually focus on the addiction perspective of porn, and also the correlation between mainstream porn and violence toward women. It’s not just about relationship insecurity. I would say that most people enjoy porn (like most people enjoy alcohol and even drugs), but there are problems associated with it, and just putting a blanket “you’re being judgmental” statement on it does not make those problems go away.

    • Jessica says...

      Amanda, you perfectly summed up what I was thinking. The episode of the nextflix show “Sex Explained” about desire falls in line with this. Often what people fantasize about goes beyond the boundaries of what they would personally actually do in real life (i.e. like thinking a threesome is sexy, but not actually wanting to partake in one in real life). Watching porn can be a very healthy way of exploring these fantasies. That’s not to say that there are not negative aspects to porn, but like any potentially addictive vice, there will be people that cannot consume in a healthy way, but that is no reason to suggest no one should (prohibition anyone??). And the whole point of this post is to try and find better alternatives to mainstream porn that do not support the more insidious aspects of the porn industry. Kudos to Cup of Jo for being a great place to explore these types of topics.

    • Amanda says...

      @Jessica, yes, totally agree! And second your point that, of course there can be negative sides to porn, but this article is addressing a positive side and how to make the most of it! Which also loops me back to @D– you are totally entitled to your opinion about porn, and I absolutely agree that there has been research on the connection between porn, addiction, and possibly also violence. There will always be people who have addictions, whether that’s to porn, alcohol, drugs, etc., and addiction can absolutely end a relationship or cause harm to people around there. Similarly, there has also been research about the multiple root causes of sexual violence against women– which is a very complicated challenge that is deeply rooted in historical patriarchal traditions, of which violent porn is sadly just one of many symptoms. HOWEVER, when I wrote this response, I was replying more specifically to people who keep saying that porn is objectively bad for relationships because of unrealistic expectations. My response was directed more towards folks who were saying that porn in their relationship made them fell they weren’t good enough for their partner. THAT is where insecurity and lack of trust tend to play a bigger role, not the shared, consensual use of ethical porn, which is what this article was addressing. That is where my comment falls. Hope this clarifies what I wrote.

      To the COJ team, thanks for publishing a post that got so heated! I still love your comments section :) it’s developed new depth!

  41. Olivia says...

    What a great post! I think this is the first CoJ post where I’m bookmarking ALL the links. Thank you for this!

  42. Christina says...

    Just here to voice that I support any consenting adults doing anything they want to enjoy their sex life. Porn doesn’t rot your brain. *eyeroll* And if it did, that’s your human choice. PRACTICE IT: “good for her, not for me.”

    Thank you to Erica and CoJ for your work in finding ethical sources for porn, and ultimately continuing the conversation about sex positivity. xo

    • D says...

      The issue is not whether it rots your brain or not, the issue is that there are proven and researched social problems associated with porn that shouldn’t be ignored. Just like we don’t ignore alcoholism as a potential outcome of drinking alcohol. No one is saying get rid of porn completely, but we should be responsible and realistic in how we talk about it.

    • Christina says...

      D, was the article above not responsible and realistic? It certainly was, as far as I’m concerned. Which is why I’m dismayed by many of these comments. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and entitled to share it. But judging this article based on your existing understanding of porn, which many of these people seem to have gotten from the Mormon church, that’s what is irresponsible and unrealistic.

  43. Margot says...

    OMG! A lot of people (if not everyone at some point) watch porn and don’t admit it, whether it’ s ethical or not. It’ s a fact! I watch porn and that doesn’t turn me into a porn addict. I believe in being honest with your partner and admit and discuss porn and whether you decide to watch it together. It’ s nobody else’ s business. With that being said, I will continue to read COJ, just as I have for the past zillion years. <3

  44. Jessica says...

    YES – thank you CoJ for presenting these suggestions for ethical porn.

    I used to work for http://www.ifeelmyself.com (which is actually run by a male and very much in the interest of capitalist gains over female empowerment, but nonetheless still one of the better offers out there), and many of the women who would contribute to the site did so as part of their erotic journey and loved the experience.

    I would recommend http://www.lightsouthern.com for ethical, sexy and real porn made by women, for women.

    I live in Australia, where we have a fairly liberal view of porn – I find it alarming that there are so many commenters attempting to correlate porn with addiction, perversion and disempowerment of women. Of course this happens and is an issue, but this post is a direct antidote to that.

    How incredibly lucky we are to have this international forum to discuss so many facets of female pleasure.

    • Kaye says...

      “I find it alarming that there are so many commenters attempting to correlate porn with addiction, perversion and disempowerment of women. Of course this happens and is an issue, ***but this post is a direct antidote to that.***” (emphasis added)

      This! Well said, Jessica!

  45. Selina says...

    Lustery is a good one to subscribe to. All real couple making their own videos. You pay for a subscription for a reason

  46. A says...

    As someone who has pretty differing views from the majority of CoJ writers, I have loved (for close to 10 yrs) reading the day’s content with an open mind, learning new things, politely disagreeing where we may not see eye to eye, and pretty wholeheartedly loving the heart of this space. But this. Ah. Was just too far for me. In an effort to promote a world where women are deeply valued, deeply free, and deeply empowered, this woman seemed to instantly do the opposite. Having been married for close to ten years, I am deeply grateful for a man who loves me – and just me – and who is very much into our sex life and desires to please me and know me and learn and keep things spicy – but to portray pornography as somehow “ethical” based on fair wages feels pathetically trite and deeply sad to me. Not to mention the long term effects of this kind of stimulation in a relationship.

    I am not afraid of differing opinions. But I feel sad that this suddenly feels like a space where an agenda is being pushed. I would lovingly challenge you to bring an “expert” in who has a wildly differing viewpoint on sexuality and pornography and the terrible ramifications in our culture – ie the studies that continue to show a direct correlation to sexual violence or even violence in general and an absolute disregard for the inherent sacredness of the human life that seem to be usually watered down to a simple “gun rights” conversation.

    It just feels like for all of the talk about being open and inclusive, your content is wildly unbalanced and incongruent in terms of spanning the full spectrum.

    • Melody W says...

      Yes!!! This is exactly what I thought when reading this article but you wrote it more eloquently than I would’ve!

    • katie says...

      What agenda is being pushed? Nobody is telling you to watch porn. Nobody is telling you to like porn. Nobody is telling your partner to watch or like porn. Nobody is telling you to buy it. Nobody is even telling you to condone it.

      Someone asked a question about ethical porn and how to go about finding it. It was answered. That is all.

      I personally do not watch porn or want to watch it. However, if people are interested in it, I’d much prefer to read about safe, ethical ways to view it and the safe, ethical, inclusive way people are treated in the industry. Thank you CoJ for keeping up your good work, even if it’s controversial.

    • Andrea says...

      Yes to all of this.

    • Michelle R says...

      I felt really sad about this article too. I’ve seen the effect of porn firsthand on marriages (many), on young boys and girls who come across it accidentally, and on society generally (hyper-sexualization, commodification of sex, violence, the burgeoning online child porn industry, etc). I am befuddled that an industry based on the objectification, if not outright abuse of women and children, is somehow considered empowering to women. There are always exceptions, but overall, too much harm has been perpetrated by the porn industry for it to ever be ok with me, “ethical” or no.

  47. Shari says...

    I’m pretty conservative so definitely not too proud to say this subject is beyond my scope ! But…. my question is this.. who truly chooses to be acting in a porn production, however ‘ethical’ the conditions are? Is that the sum total of their expectations of life? Surely we should be helping them to achieve more? I would so sad if my sons did this. I would LOVE to know more about the reasons why people do this and if they are they good ones.

    • Annie K says...

      Hi Shari! I think for a lot of people and couples it’s a hobby, like playing tennis, or going on a hike, or a creative pursuit too like painting or photography. I come from a conservative family and I understand the confusion of how it could be a “good thing” at all. Now that I’ve made consensual, fun videos with my husband, and even though we don’t share them with others, I understand better how it can be an empowering and fun experience, rather than necessarily a demeaning and “low” one. It is certainly not the sum total of my achievements – I have two kids and a masters degree, and am grateful so much for my calm, balanced life. I love that you were curious about this. We see the judgment slung back and forth on this topic, and honestly I’d like to sling some in places, but the dialogue is what we come back for, right?
      Best!

    • Shari says...

      Thanks for replying Annie K. You’ve taught me something, as I didn’t really think about couples filming for their own private fun and consumption. Good for them! I think I could see how that could be empowering.
      I do still want to further look in to what drives a person to act in porn that’s done for public consumption and where they would get paid. I worry that it’s too easy for vulnerable people to get exploited where we should be supporting them.

  48. Jenny says...

    Thanks for this post! It is so hard to find any kind of content that centers women as sexual subjects instead of objects in this culture. I can imagine some of these kind of third wave, anti-porn comments are opposed to the content that’s violent, exploitative, and not about us. But that’s not this content! There’s a whole range of stuff— from ethical porn to hot podcasts to visual art— that’s about the erotic as the antidote to death, about feeling inspired and sensual in our bodies. And while this answer is about a couple exploring together, it’s also really about centering an experience on women’s pleasure and curiosity. Knock on wood I’ll match into an OB/GYN residency and I plan to ask all my patients about their sex lives as a part of their health. (And to the folks who are like read the studies about how watching a little feminist porn or using this very well researched set of tutorials about touch that moves women will turn you into a hardcore porn addict, I’m searching but can’t find that paper).

  49. Bailey says...

    YESSSS to this post! Thank you Erica!!!!!!!

  50. Emily says...

    Thanks for writing about this topic! I’m so surprised to see that so many readers are anti-porn! I’m anti-mainstream porn industry, but not against porn in principle. I recommend checking out Erika Lust’s work if you’re looking for inclusive, consensual porn directed by women.

  51. Emma says...

    Just NO, NO and NO for any form of porn…..it is dangerous to all women out there!

  52. Mary B says...

    I agree with the comments stating that porn is bad news. It’s not needed for a fun and fulfilling sex life. And it’s so damaging to the people being filmed and the people who watch. Do girls coming of age dream of being porn stars when they get older? People fall into it for not so good reasons.

    • Amy says...

      I have a female friend who produces a feminist, sex-positive nudie mag. Not exactly the same thing as a porn video, but pretty close. She does it partly because she’s trying to combat the misogynist, hetero-normative agenda in mainstream porn (similar to the organizations listed in the article above), but also because SEX IS FUN. She has an absolute blast making sexy photoshoots! Her magazine is super creative and artistic and also very very sexy. Showing off their sexy side makes many women feel good too!

  53. Catie says...

    I think one of the reasons there are diametrically opposing responses to this discussion is because of a lack of a clear definition of ‘porn’. I don’t see one offered by FightTheNewDrug, and admittedly the post hasn’t offered one either, but I would hazard a guess that two things on fairly opposite ends of the spectrum are being discussed. A quick browse through the non-profit site suggests that many of the studies (especially those looking at negative impacts on adolescents and teens) include the type of content that is available for free on the internet (I don’t know of any adolescent kid who is going to stumble onto a subscription site and pay for it). Nothing you can find for free (unless it’s been aggressively pirated and you get very lucky) is going to approach anything close to ‘ethical’. These are the sorts of things that encourage unhealthy and unrealistic views of sex, sexuality, and interactions between partners. On the other end of the spectrum, there is also a whole world of material that is probably better described as erotic film. Erika Lust’s production company is making great examples of this. Well-paid performers, working publicly as professionals in safe environments, who have total control over their working conditions and what they participate in, make erotica together with a team of creative and technical direction and support. THAT kind of material–feminist, intersectional, ethical–is, I think, actually a very healthy thing to see. If anything, it celebrates a much wider, more representative spectrum of human bodies and identities, and it reinforces the idea that sex is a healthy thing between consenting adults, and ‘normal’ sex is so much more than what we see in movies–not just bad porn, but mainstream Hollywood stuff. OMGYes is a great educational resource that helps with this as well, but I think it’s so important to see things you identify with represented as ‘normal’ on screen (no, your orgasm face isn’t ‘weird’; no, you’re BODY’s not weird; no, it’s not strange that you need a certain kind of stimulation to achieve it; yes, it’s perfectly normal for certain things to be pleasurable to you and for other things not to be; yes, consent and consistent checking in can be incorporated into sex without ‘killing the mood’; etc.). This material runs the gamut from something-like-a-rom-com to more serious fetish content, but that doesn’t change the principles behind it. No matter what, if your teen stumbles up on this on the internet and somehow decides to pay for it, they’re going to see consenting adults communicating openly, being attentive to their partners, and respecting them enough to care equally about their pleasure. I can’t speak for Erica Chidi Cohen, but I have a feeling that content is what she’s talking about under the umbrella of ‘ethical porn’.

    • K says...

      I so appreciate this comment! Its exactly what I’ve been thinking as I scrolled through what everyone is sharing!

      I have a close family member that found very aggressive porn at a young age which hugely impacted them and became an addiction. But I don’t think that experience can be blanket compared to the porn that’s being discussed here. They’re two vastly different things, but we’re using one word to describe them.

    • Annie K says...

      Thank you for your thoughtful response and perspective, Catie! I agree with you whole-heartedly, and hope your comment gets read by many.

    • Danielle says...

      This! Thank you Catie for saying so well what I’ve been thinking while reading over all these comments.

  54. shannon says...

    Really appreciate the rich discussion happening in the comments as they bring in a diversity of perspective that is sorely lacking in the original article. The ethics of porn go far beyond the ethics of producing the videos which is the only ethical question that is presented here.

    A few other facets include: do you feel it’s ok to watch strangers having sex? Are you ok with your partner thinking of those images while being intimate with you? How can you tell your porn use has gone too far, and what is your plan for stopping use if it does?

    Porn is absolutely a habit with addictive potential and needs to be treated with care the same way you might with alcohol or marijuana. Just as with those, some people find it easy to moderate; many others take it to extremes. To answer the question posed in the title about ethics with “yay, go for it!” is pretty shortsighted. There are many other options for spicing up your sex life that carry less risk.

    • Rosie says...

      This post is about watching porn with your partner. Most people have watched porn solo before and newsflash: you can’t control what your partner thinks at any time let alone when they’re having sex. Trying to police what other people think about is just going to exhaust you. You don’t want to watch porn as a couple and that’s fine, but your partner can do whatever they want and think about whatever they want. Please don’t be so controlling. That is way riskier than watching porn.

    • amy says...

      This is a terrifying comment: “Are you ok with your partner thinking of those images while being intimate with you?”
      I’m sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t matter if you are “ok” with what another person is thinking at any given time. You cannot control people’s thoughts. More breaking news: your partner has the ability to think of something else while being intimate with you, with or without porn. I would encourage you to get over it, for the sake of your own happiness and for the sake of any partners you are trying to mind control.
      And to your first question: is it okay to watch strangers have sex? If you are okay with watching them and they are okay with being watched, the answer is yes.
      There are a LOT of complicated issues around the mainstream porn industry, production and consumption, and this post was trying to address them. But the questions you raise are NOT actually issues. If you don’t want to watch or be in porn — just don’t. And if you want to control what someone is thinking — you can’t.

    • shannon says...

      Wow, my meaning has been misconstrued, and I am frustrated about these inflammatory responses. The name-calling and sarcasm in these comments is not what I expect from commenters or moderators on this site, and I’m disappointed that it came to that in this case.

      To clarify: this is a question about discerning your own feelings about the bigger-picture ethics of porn. It’s a value of mine to be on the same page with my partner about porn use, and I believe it’s generally a worthy question to explore. Obviously I had a poor choice of words in trying to relay that idea.

      That’s a far cry from “terrifying,” “mind control,” and “polic(ing) what others think.” I’ve obviously touched a nerve, and I’m so sorry that it triggered something for you, perhaps related to others trying to control you in the past. I assure you that was not my intention, and further that I waste no effort over attempting to control anyone’s thoughts (because, how futile).

    • Katha says...

      Do you feel it’s ok to watch strangers having sex?
      Yes. If they are okay with being watched. You know, for some people being watched is a turn on.

      Are you ok with your partner thinking of those images while being intimate with you?
      I really struggle with this assumption. When I’m intimate with my partner I do not think of the porn I watched any other time.

      I don’t see these as ethical questions, though. For me the ethics are a question of: did people get abused/hurt/violated/exploited in the making of the video/content?
      That should be none negotiable.
      Anything else is more about your own morals or sexual preferences and that’s none of anybodies business.

      I find that this gets a lot mixed up in comments like yours here.

  55. Emma says...

    Who says you can’t be a feminist and still enjoy porn? I think it’s dangerous to make the topic of porn so binary- the human mind is a vast, beautiful, place that can travel to many realms and not necessarily be acted upon. I love porn and I love being a woman. I am not ashamed of having sexual desires that I enjoy watching- mindfully- portrayed in porn. I think the anti-porn stance is an antiquated belief that limits the very essence of human nature. And also, to each her own!

    • V says...

      Well said!! Totally agree that we should empower one another.

      Thank you CofJo and Erica for providing such amazing resources. For all the anti-porn ppl out there, did you read the written details provided in the post? What is wrong with educational information about female bodies?
      If anything, we need more posts like this to educate ourselves!

      There was a recent article on NPR and it cited a study that found 40% of women in America experience sexual dysfunction — the inability to feel satisfied by sex. If we need sources beyond the bedroom/mind such as porn, podcasts, erotica etc. then it’s better to have ethical resources than not! It’s better to have ethical sites to explore than to feel total shame about our sexuality.

  56. Christy says...

    This blog—and the community of women here—have a warm place in my heart. I also deeply appreciate Elle’s comment about the research around pornography, along with Elle’s observation that CoJ often discusses opinions as facts. Another way of saying this: on controversial topics, the CoJ authors often speak as if there was only one legitimate perspective. It’s unfortunate, partly because this approach is less open minded than I think this blog truly seeks to be.

    It would be great to see a thoughtful blog post expressing a a different personal perspective on pornography, along with some of the extensive research on this topic.

    Also, kudos for women having an open discussion on this important topic: who do we look at intimately, how does this affect the people we’re looking at, and how does this affect us. This is an important and worthwhile topic—and well suited to a #metoo age.

  57. Megan says...

    THANK YOU Cup of Jo for this post! A couple years ago I found it so hard to find porn that was ethical, not violent or aggressive in some way, and highlighted female pleasure. I happened upon Erika Lust (ethical indie-film like porn) and never needed to explore the shady corners of the internet again. It’s refreshing to see women sharing resources for ethical porn. Looking forward to visiting these.

    Of course there is disturbing content out there that simply should not exist, content that has negative personal, social, and cultural impacts. But as with most things, this isn’t black and white (fast food is addictive and harmful for your body, therefore beware of all food.) It’s possible for me to watch quality porn, be turned on and inspired by the body positivity and modeling, and not get addicted (I watch her content a handful of times a year), just like it’s possible for me to eat a good burger every now and then without becoming a fast food junkie.

    • Catie says...

      The stuff Erika Lust produces is so, so good.

      As a single person who is interested in having an active sex life, but doesn’t have the socio-emotional energy to go on lots of dates, I watch her content on a regular basis (I guess maybe once/week?). My preferences for what I enjoy and what I don’t haven’t changed, and I have a hard time seeing the addictive properties of content like this. It’s like saying if I have too much sex with a partner, eventually I’ll need kinkier and kinkier things to make it enjoyable. I just…don’t understand how this addiction narrative can be generalized to literally all content that is sexual in nature. (No shade to kinky things, of course, just making an analogy).

      Frankly, I think I have a healthier relationship with myself, my body, my sexuality, and with partners because of it. I feel empowered to find myself sexy, I feel empowered to communicate with a partner more directly, and I feel like *I’m* a better partner because I’m just better informed and more ready to embrace the vastness of someone else’s sexuality, too.

  58. K says...

    I just wanted to share my appreciation for your site’s willingness to discuss sex issues in an open, nonjudgmental, and non-‘icky’ way. The resources you’ve provided over the years have helped me come into my own (pun intended) and overcome a lot of negative thoughts about my sexuality. I’d never had an orgasm (despite being 27 and married for a handful of years) until just a few months ago, and I can honestly say that the recommendations, advice, and support from your articles about sex really made a difference. Thank you.

  59. Annie says...

    I need to figure out how to even open up this conversation! My husband and I both indulge on our own, but he is so awkward when I bring it up. Maybe I can email him this article!

  60. Amanda says...

    Thanks for posting about this! While many parts of the porn industry have had a negative effect on women, I think a lot of that stems from being in a larger culture that treats women as objects, and that doesn’t see women’s sexuality as valuable. I appreciate knowing more about where I can find good, ethical sexy content online.

  61. Jenn says...

    After watching a Netflix documentary about women who direct porn I became a big fan of Erika Lust’s X Confessions. So much better than the amateur free stuff.

  62. angela says...

    here for sex positivity 🙌🏼

    • K says...

      Yes! Thank you, Angela! Agree!!!!

  63. Mandy says...

    Silly question, but before I click, are these fairly safe websites? I mean I know you can’t control the internet, but will they cause a crazy amount of pop up adds?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      They’re all good sites, no worries there! Xo

  64. Erin says...

    Wow! Thank you! I have learned so much from your site in so many different arenas and I’m glad that you’re willing to go beyond topics such as cute things to buy and embarrassing date mishaps.

  65. Monica Stewart says...

    I love COJ but I completely disagree with this standpoint. I have seen porn destroy relationships and research has proven that it affects the brain like a drug. One of the best non-profits is fightthenewdrug.com. I encourage y’all to check it out and see the science behind what porn does to your brain.

    • Monica Stewart says...

      Sorry – fightthenewdrug.org.

    • Alyssa says...

      Thank you for this resource!

      For anyone else, Fight the New Drug is a non-religious, non-legislative, nonprofit raising awareness and educating on the harmful effects of pornography. It’s based on science, facts, and personal accounts.

      No matter what your stance is on this topic, I highly recommend you take a look so that you can make an informed decision.

      https://fightthenewdrug.org/

    • J says...

      This statement assumes that a brain affected by a drug is automatically a bad thing.

      Some folks might like to explore their sensory experience and pleasure while “on drugs” like weed.

      I say this as a completely drug-free person (recreational drugs, I mean…well, besides caffeine. haha), and I wanted to point out the inherent judgment in this comment.

    • EW says...

      Thank you!! With how addictive porn is and the problems of children being exposed to porn at a very young age (the average is age 7 btw) I am SHOCKED the COJ staff would be posting this without talking about the damage done.

      I am all for sex-positivity but porn and the ensuing damage is not it.

    • Kate says...

      This org has been roundly criticised for being totally non-science based, and it claims to be non-religious when it was founded by members of a religion that is not exactly feminist. It seems weird to have so many different comments citing the same website and no actual research. I’m not pro-all porn, in fact I think the vast majority is degrading, but I do think ethical porn can and does exist.

    • Mimi says...

      The answer to the title question should be: NO.
      I’m disappointed by how COJ discusses this topic. Too many people remain silent on the real harms to women and relationships that pornography inevitably inflicts. I’ve always considered COJ to be a true champion of women but I believe this article misses that mark entirely.

    • Jennifer says...

      Thank you for sharing; I came here to the comment section hoping I wasn’t alone in my disappointment. I have been a faithful COJ reader (since 2010!) but this has crossed a line for me. So sad to see this.

    • Linda says...

      I am totally with you. I am really upset about the normalization of porn by the media, and the promotion of porn as some kind of feminist breakthrough. I have a 14-year-old son and the ubiquitousness of porn on the internet means that young teens who haven’t even had a first kiss are watching hard core porn. As long as porn exists, teens will be watching it. There is no way to stop them.

    • CR says...

      Practice this – “good for her, not for me” and let others live their lives.

    • EW says...

      CR – that phrase is a terrible one here. When things truly are damaging to individuals in our community shouldn’t we care?

      This isn’t about the type of person someone dates or the food they eat or how they choose to parent. This is an issue that has lasting impacts on the community as a whole, in children & adults. I’m tired of people being afraid/too lazy to “lean in” and care about what happens to their neighbors. That has gotten our society to where it is today and if you look around we in the US have a lot of room for improvement in how we care about our neighbors (immigrants, homeless, those in poverty, the elderly, the disabled, refugees, POC, etc).

    • Miranda says...

      That website is controversial and run by a group of Mormons. I don’t know if you realize that! But want to toss a little perspective into this thread. It’s ok if you’re not into this topic, obviously, but that site is far from “unbiased”. It’s pretty clear it has an agenda.

  66. Lind says...

    If my husband told me that he wanted to bring porn into our bedroom, I would be extremely offended that I was no longer enough. I have been married many years, and my husband (who knows how destructive porn is, and does not view it) has no problems getting turned on by me alone (and I have a very average mom bod). I feel sorry for the lady posing the question in this article; her husband wants to use her body while thinking and fantasizing about someone or something else. He’s objectifying her. Today he is asking for “soft porn”, but soon he will need even more, and then what? Research shows what porn does to the brain; it is like a drug requiring more and more and harder and harder stuff in order to get the brain to light up. I would recommend all to go to the website: fightthenewdrug.org to learn just how dangerous porn is to our culture.

    • Em says...

      As someone who dated someone with a pornography addiction and saw it ruin his life (jobs lost, ruined relationships, becoming reclusive to indulge), I completely agree with Lind. There is no benefit to watching pornography. You might not feel it affects you negatively the first few times you watch it – nor do cigarettes – but it will cause cumulative damage to your sex life, your trust with your partner, your relationship(s – because it can affect more than just your relationship with your mate), and possibly beyond. And Lind is absolutely right: people with pornography addictions start out tame – with “soft” stuff – and gradually it doesn’t do it for them anymore and they have to watch “harder” pornography to achieve the same arousal (keep in the mind the far end of this spectrum is extremely degrading and even features abuse).

      I would also feel horribly offended that my partner felt I wasn’t enough. I hadn’t ever thought about how incorporating pornography into your sex life objectifies the woman in the relationship. I’d only thought about how it objectifies women in general and treats sex as something meaningless and meant only for gratifying desires, as opposed to showing love for ones’ partner.

    • J says...

      What exactly is an “average mom bod”?

    • Lauren says...

      Yeah, sorry, I have to disagree. Viewing pornography is addictive and causes unrealistic expectations and misinformation about sex. It conditions us to see people as objects to be used and abused and encourages obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. I haven’t seen the stuff the author describes but I have a hard time believing that ethical porn strays far enough from the norm to have different effects.

    • Lizzie says...

      Early in my marriage, my husband wanted to bring porn into it, so I agreed to try a few times. But I will never forget the moment a breathtakingly beautiful lithe, dark haired model (my physical opposite) came on screen, and started taking off her clothes. My husband just melted with enthusiasm for her. It was an awful experience- he was SO excited by her, and understandably so. And bringing this person- this other human being- into our intimate life forever challenged my assumption that porn is little more than another tool for a couple’s pleasure.

      To me, sex is also about bonding. I’m surprised the bonding aspects aren’t discussed so much in popular culture these days. Perhaps there’s this idea that women, and relationships, should live up to that stereotypically male ideal of enjoying impersonal sex. But when I think about oxytocin (“the love drug”, the “cuddle hormone”) that gets released during sex, that makes me think it’s not just me, who relates sex to bonding and closeness. It seems the oxytocin provides an important- and valuable biological (rather than moralistic/ conventional) component. And for me, oxytocin provides a pretty compelling explanation of why I wouldn’t want my partner to “bond” with that beautiful stranger on the screen.

      To extend the bonding discussion, I realize this isn’t scientific, but I do recall seeing a film about swingers and/ or utopian societies from the 70’s, where people loved the philosophy of being able to have sex with others, yet so, so often, in spite of themselves, jealousy cropped up.

      I’m sure others will beg to differ with me regarding the above, but I’m just sharing my very perspective and difficult past experience.

      For what it’s worth, according to my husband, he voluntarily gave up porn for himself years ago, and he says he doesn’t miss it. We are very happy together.

    • Kate says...

      No, it’s not a drug in that no chemical is introduced into the body. I don’t care if my husband watches porn, in fact I often do myself. It doesn’t make me love him any less, and so far doesn’t seem like an addiction. That said I’m also pro legalisation of many drugs, so we may not see eye to eye.

    • Ann says...

      I mean about “not being enough for him” it’s not like after marriage, ppl become immune to becoming attracted to or noticing anyone besides our partner. Unless you keep him in a bubble. But also, not saying I’m a huge proponent for porn, but if it’s ethical and inclusive porn, it could be just another way to spice up a sex life on par with a sex toy or cute lingerie. It may not work for everyone, but if it works for this couple, good for them.

    • San says...

      Agree. I’m married , but when I was single, dating, I could ALWAYS IMMEDIATELY tell the men who watched porn- they were absolutely useless at sex and were obviously in their own heads, not focusing on the real live woman in front of them. It got to the point where I’d actually get up and leave occasionally. Porn is hugely addictive and damaging. I’m glad I had some experiences with men who were turned on by the real live woman in their arms so I had something to compare it too and tell the difference between porn and non- porn watchers! I don’t want to have a sex with any man who needs or wants someone or something other than my body and ME . I’m quite interesting enough !

    • CR says...

      It may not work for your relationship, but it works for many others. Others are not limited to your perspective. You are allowed to feel this way and others are allowed to view porn positively.

    • Susan says...

      What I like about this article is the agency of the woman. She wants to find sources of pleasure for her and her partner. This comment seems to be focused on the husband’s point of view/pleasure when it comes to sex – what turns her husband on, what she thinks the letter writer’s partner (who she presumes is male) is asking for, and what it does to the brains of men. The fear is that porn will make men not think “average mom bod”s are a turn on. But I have some questions for this commenter, as well as all the commenters who think all forms of porn dangerous – what brings you sexual joy? What makes you feel loved and desired? What turns you on or you are curious about? Whatever it is, you should feel free to pursue it, even if it’s not for someone else. Why does the thought of others pursuing what brings them joy feel so threatening?

      What I love about this space is the focus on women and our desires, and the presumption that they are just as important and valid as men’s. I find the question and Erica’s answer joyful and coming from a place of curiosity and openness. Thank you for that.

    • K says...

      I doubt she has any time for your misplaced self righteous pity. She’s probably too busy having multiple orgasms.

  67. V says...

    THANK YOU for this post! This is a great list of resources to have, for solos and couples. Too much shaming occurs when women express interest in porn or other forms of sexual/erotic entertainment. In general, there is a total lack of discussion around female masturbation when there shouldn’t be. But don’t we all do it?? I hope we do! One of the reasons stems from the idea of women as not having their own sexual desires and needs. But hell no ! that isn’t true!! If we want to watch (hopefully ethical! which is top notch quality) porn, then all the power to us! This post helps to normalize things. Well done!

    • Marie says...

      There is absolutely nothing “normal” about pornography. It is a perversion of sex….meaning a distortion of truth……it’s not real!!! The research is pretty solid; it will not enhance your sex life in the long run (more likely to destroy it), and it increases incidences of violence against women in our society. So even if you are not committing acts of violence against women because of your viewing……others are, and you are feeding the industry. This is not empowering for women!

    • V says...

      V here.
      You are missing the entire point of the post and my comment. If people want ethical resources, they are being responsible in how they explore their sexuality. As I said, there is a lot of shaming around female sexuality and you have just continued this negative cycle by expressing such harsh judgements. The whole purpose of the post here is to provide resources. If you’re not interested in these, no need to share such negativity and shaming. Empower yourself with your own opinion, but also allow others to empower themselves in their own way.
      Shame not.

  68. Lauren says...

    [Obligatory off-topic clothing comment]
    Ugh I can’t stop staring at Julia’s LOOK!!

    • Lauren says...

      ? I mean Erica!

  69. Hillary says...

    I also highly recommend attending Dan Savage’s Hump! film festival, which travels to cities all over the US and Canada. Anyone can submit a short video to the festival and become “porn stars for a day” – the only place you can watch the videos is at the festival itself (or if the filmmaker decides to make the video available elsewhere). A team curates the best videos, and the diversity in submissions (gender expressions, sexual orientations, body type, kinks, etc.) is always the best part. Some are even HILARIOUS! Very highly recommend, it is a highlight every year.

  70. Jane says...

    This is a very important post in this forum, well done Cup of Jo! Explore all potential avenues to body positivity, freedom and self love.

  71. Jane says...

    Hahaha I thought the same

  72. Erin says...

    About OMGYes.com: “who interviewed thousands of women, from age 18 to 195…”

    I want whatever the 195 year old is having!

  73. Marie says...

    I am SO disappointed in CupofJo. There are so many studies, and so much correlation between violence against women and pornography. Pornography reduces human beings to sex objects, and encourages people to think of sex outside of the context of a “real” human beings. Studies would say there is no safe porn, because as time goes on users require harder and harder porn to become aroused. Listen to Ted Bundy’s (serial killer) interview on how pornography led to his crimes. As a feminist, I am completely appalled at this article.

    • Kelly says...

      Oh gosh – a lot of pearl-clutching going on today…

      I mean – equating watching porn to becoming Ted Bundy?! 98% of men watch porn. There is one Ted Bundy. Almost everyone, men and women, watches or has watched porn. Also generally love when women proclaim that their husband/partner tells them they don’t watch….statistically speaking, they’re most certainly lying. I mean, maybe they’re not…but most of them are.

      And does Fight The New Drug have a tag team on here?

      Anyhow, for others interested in the topics mentioned here, there was also a good episode about this on Call Your Girlfriend:
      https://www.callyourgirlfriend.com/episodes/2019/07/12/adult-sex-ed

      *It shouldn’t have to be said, but I do know that lots/nearly all pornography gives an extremely false narrative as to what good sex should be, and that the result is that both young men and women are misinformed, have unrealistic expectations, etc. That there is pornography addiction, and a whole host of other bad things that are related. But the point of this post was information on ethical and safe porn. People are going to watch no matter what…so it might as well be one of the sites listed above.

    • Kate says...

      The point of this article is that the content featured does not exploit people. I think people are too quick to point to addiction. When someone has a glass of wine people don’t draw Ted Bundy-like comparisons, even though alcohol has many devastating impacts. As a 31-year-old feminist woman who has enjoyed this kind of content in a safe way for over 10 years I would say people like me are the majority. Thank you Cup of Jo for having such courage to broach this topic.

    • Kate says...

      As a feminist, I am disappointed that you are using one anecdote (Ted Bundy watched porn and was a serial killer) to generalise about the billions of people who watch porn and aren’t serial killers.

    • Katha says...

      Wow. I feel as there are so many things mixed up in this statement.
      Not all ponography reduces human beings to sex objects – hence the question for ethical porn.
      There are a lot of things out there that can be addictive – like drugs or having control over what you eat – apart from maybe hard drugs getting addicted to anything is not just something that happens to every person. There are other underlying problems.
      Apropos other underlying problems. The correlation between watching porn an violence against women is not solely one of cause and effect. The subject is way more complex. Do people who are prone to violence enjoy watching porn that degrades women? I’m sure of that. Is everyone who enjoys watching porn in any way violent against women? Not at all.
      Content like the one linked to above is important.

      I’m not in denial about problems in the porn industrie and bad effects bad porn can have on certain people.
      But as a whole for me the request “do not watch porn at all because it’s all bad” feels patronizing and ignorant.
      What’s with all the women who enjoy watching or even making porn?

    • CR says...

      And as a feminist, I am happy to see women claiming a part of their sexual exploration that has been limited to men for so long!

    • Rachel says...

      I disagree—I’m all for exploring sexuality openly, healthily, and consensually, all in the context of feminism. But also—being well-versed in true crime and the history of a quite a few serial killers—the Ted Bundy anecdote made me stop.

      In case anyone out there scrolls past this comment and believes it’s actually why Bundy committed his crimes, I need to clear something up. It’s been largely discussed that Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, who led the interview with Bundy, was actually the one to suggest to him that that porn was the reason for his crimes (Dobson has led a crusade against it for ages). Bundy, who had trouble owning his blame and reconciling his murders with how he saw himself, agreed. This was great PR for the evangelical anti-porn stance and gave Bundy another scapegoat. I’m sure you mean well, but even if porn contribited to any of Bundy’s behaviors, there was too much to be gained by both parties to use this as a valid argument against it.

  74. Annie K says...

    OMG, YES to THIS. I haven’t tried to watch porn since going blindly into the abyss of a random google search over five years ago. When I told my partner that I did that and about my experience trying to shuffle through the results, he looked at me with genuine concern (not a thing that is easily triggered), and said “Never do that again alone! I’m so sorry you went through that.” HA! I’m excited to have this list to explore, indeed, on my own. Thank you so much.

  75. Lauren E. says...

    Wow, I had NO idea this existed! And for the readers below who are concerned about porn addiction, yes, it’s real. But my partner and I both enjoy porn from time to time and neither of us is addicted. I think it’s one thing if within your relationship it’s considered cheating, but for us, it’s not. It can be fun!

  76. Pamela Rich says...

    This was a fascinating post. I’m so appreciative of both the question as well as the super thoughtful answer. Thanks COJ for keeping this forum interesting, varied and inclusive.

  77. S says...

    I honestly think there’s got to be just as many, if not more, damaging (to relationships) stories of porn as there are positive porn experiences. Regardless of ethical or unethical porn, couldn’t one get addicted to it or start to develop unrealistic expectations from their partners? How do you define a “healthy” amount of porn and where do you draw the line before it becomes excessive? I am honestly curious. TBH I have thought about how porn could spice up my and my partners sex life, but hesitated to try it out for the reasons above.

    • Lindsey says...

      https://fightthenewdrug.org is such a great resource to explore more about the addictive nature of Porn, since you are questioning for that reason. It’s a non-religious nonprofit doing excellent, research-based work. Pretty eye opening!

    • Kate says...

      I would look up wikipedia on that ‘non-religious’ org before you take anything they say seriously.

  78. Elle says...

    I have always appreciated the way Cup of Jo discusses sex and related topics, but it does bother me when certain topics are portrayed as fact. Even Erica’s praise for the reader’s question is an opinion. There are lots of people, and research, that would say quite the opposite: that porn is not healthy in any context and especially is not healthy in a relationship. Fair and unbiased writing would also present other opinions that discuss the harmful implications of watching porn, both to individuals and couples.

    I love reading COJ (and will certainly keep reading) and respect Jo’s right to choose what is posted. I felt that it was important I share my perspective since this blog works so hard to be inclusive.

    • A says...

      Yes, yes, and yes. Porn is so damaging mentally and it honestly makes me frightened to see people be so accepting of it. There’s a good body of research + people sharing their personal experiences of how it damaged their view of sexuality and violence towards women. Honestly I’m frustrated with how our culture treats female sexuality in general- we’re “woke” and in with the Me Too movement but also celebrating movies like Hustlers and glorifying sex work. I know women who’ve come out of those lifestyles and stripping is anything but empowering- sex work often entraps already disenfranchised and vulnerable women. It’s not uncommon for women in pornography to be underage or trafficked. What might start as “ethical consumption” can easily take you down paths you never thought you’d approve of or find pleasure from- trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s a very gripping and hard progression. I guess I’m both frustrated that CoJ (which I love) is promoting something so damaging but also just disturbed at the hypocrisy in our society in general.

    • Jenny says...

      Same thing I was thinking while reading the article. I’ve personally seen marriages be destroyed by porn as the interest in “soft porn” turned into a growing desire for more and heavier content. Not something I’d feel at all comfortable with in my marriage.

    • jody k says...

      Oh yawn Elle.

    • Beth says...

      Elle, I have to agree with you! A friend I went to high school with is a co-founder (the founder is his lovely wife) of an organization that provides education to high school students and teachers not only about sex trafficking awareness, but the negative effects of porn and its addictive qualities. To be honest, I’m sad it’s becoming a normal thing in our culture.

    • t says...

      Hi Elle, I think the majority of the content on this blog is opinion. Political opinion, opinion of what is attractive in fashion, opinions on beauty products, parenting, etc. None of these are portrayed as fact and neither is this piece.

      Additionally, although I agree that porn is not healthy for many people and many relationships it absolutely is healthy for some people and relationships. It doesn’t sound like you watch porn but for those who do watch ethical, inclusive porn portraying real people having real sex it can be empowering. For example I am fat and seeing other fat women celebrating their bodies and finding pleasure makes me feel more desirable.

      Anyway I appreciated reading your perspective in your thoughtful comment. Thank you for sharing.

    • D says...

      I agree that there are many sides to look at it regarding porn- and that could be an interesting future topic. However I don’t think that issue is the point of this post. The intention was to respond to the reader looking for sources of ethical porn- not asking about all the implications of pornography. I think of it a bit like if someone is asking for ethical source of beef. A vegan would say it doesn’t exist but the nutritionist answering the question might have a different option. The answer will always be in the light of the person answering the question and not society at large.

    • Rae says...

      Elle, I am curious about where in this post you read the response as the offering of “facts” rather than the opinion of this specific sexual health educator? Erica Chidi Cohen is introduced to us with a bio of her work and background, the question is presented in the format of a question (to Erica) and answer (to the letter writer.) She make sweeping claims about “all couples should” nor does she cite studies about the effects of watching porn.

    • anni says...

      Thank you.

    • Jill says...

      I agree with you, Elle, and think your argument is very well put. COJ definitely presents argument and opinion as fact and this post is an excellent example. I think porn is always exploitative (and that’s my OPINION, which differs from Erica’s). It strikes me as pushy and condescending when COJ posts highly argumentative posts dressed as fact.

    • ashley says...

      Well said!

    • A says...

      I agree, I don’t think that CoJ should try to make it a fact that porn is healthy for relationships. I think there are many, many relationship experts, research and couples who would disagree. If someone wants to pursue that, that’s their choice. But I think it’s irresponsible to try to convince readers that porn is healthy or good for relationships because I absolutely believe otherwise.

      Jo did lose me as a reader on this one.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes, definitely something each couple should decide on themselves! We absolutely aren’t saying porn is necessary or wanted by everyone. Hope this helps!

    • Catherine Malmin says...

      Yes to this.

    • Jen K. says...

      I appreciate Elle’s reply. I hope that COJ shares a follow up post on potential dangers of porn use including research that indicates porn usage is part of a consumer culture that contributes to human trafficking and can rewire your brain in ways that inhibit healthy sexual relationships. Please include research from other sides in this discussion. Thank you.

    • Kaye says...

      Jeez it’s not a freaking debate people. Yes, porn can be addictive. So can alcohol, sugar, marijuana and the list goes on. Just because it has the potential to be abused, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed in moderation – which is the case for many, many adults. (Myself included – I indulge in some ethical porn every 2-3 months, on average.) Just like there are many, many adults who consume the aforementioned substances moderately. Again – just because something CAN be addictive doesn’t mean it should be demonized across the board. If only people brought such passion to discussing the nefarious effects of alcohol… maybe those dumb “mommy juice” jokes would clear up.

      If it’s not for you, move on. But please enough with the pearl-clutching and condescending, know-it-all tone! Pull an Amy Poehler: “Good for her, not for me.”

    • CR says...

      I also agree with Ella. 100% and just how this post is “promoting” porn to empower women. I think CoJ should also empower women by discussing the dangers of it in a separate post (as Jen K suggested)

    • Sam says...

      To D—but this post isn’t just offering suggestions for ethical porn, like a post making suggestions for ethical meat might do. Rather it’s *commending* the questioner for being open to porn. Imagine if there were a post about how to find ethical animal products that not only made a few suggestions but also weighed in about how great it was that you were interested in eating meat, and how one of the reasons it’s so great is that eating meat is an opportunity to counteract the unhealthy dietary models we were raised with, and that it’s really good we are talking about this because the more we support this kind of diet the more prevalent non-veganisn will finally become. That kind of post would clearly go beyond merely suggesting ethical meat options for interested parties. It would also be praising meat-eaters. A lack of engagement with or even acknowledgement of the other side would only heighten the effect. Obviously not every post needs to appeal to every person, but when one view—like veganism, or the view that even ethically produced porn is interpersonally unhealthy—is fairly mainstream, overlooking it entirely while praising the opposite can seem rather conspicuous.

    • Steph says...

      I agree absolutely. My partner turned to porn to self treat depression and it was a horrible cycle- he became addicted to it to get that dopamine hit. He knew I didn’t approve and kept it a secret for several years. It was very hard to fix the relationship after it came to light. We are a “porn free” relationship because it’s just not for us. Porn can be damaging and is not for everyone. I really encourage people to proceed with caution and to not use it as the main means to “light a fire in your relationship.” The best thing you can do is communicate about your sexual needs and if you’re depressed, please seek out services and avoid using porn to self medicate.

  79. Julie says...

    Love her recommendations. I usually read erotic novels, but if I do watch porn I’ve found quite a few that were made by women and feature real couples, real orgasms. None of that “slutty chick gets rammed by giant dong” stuff you see on mainstream sites. Those are not my jam.

    • Kate says...

      Ugh those are the worst! Porn titles are like a buzzfeed listicle but worse… I just want real people enjoying themselves in a loving and consensual way!

  80. GREAT post CupofJo team! I have a rec that’s not quite porn as it’s not in video format, but it’s still VERY sexy. The App DIPSEA is an app full of sexy stories and there are stories for couples, stories for exploring on your own, etc. It included female narration or male or both. You can choose him + him, her + her or him + her. I think they even have a threesome story! If you love dirty talk, this is the app for you. It’s really fun to close your eyes and listen to sexy voice talk sexy to you. Enjoy! xx

  81. t says...

    I highly recommend girls out west for female directed, ethical porn. girlsoutwest.com

    • Rosie says...

      Yes! Second this.

  82. E says...

    18 to 195? Must be all the good sex :)

    • Elizabeth says...

      LOL!

  83. Abbie says...

    What a phenomenal question I have never thought to ask!!